To justify its decision, the Commission gave the following reasons:
• The sanctioning of the car port was not compliant with Policy 1.2D of the Rural Policy and Design Guidance (2014) which actively promotes soil conservation;
• The proposal ran counter to Rural Objective 1 of the Strategic Plan for Environment & Development which protects good quality agricultural land from development.
In reaction, applicant decided to appeal the said decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, insisting that the permit should have been issued. In his appeal submissions, applicant (now, appellant) argued that the illegal interventions were carried out in ‘a residence already covered by a development permit’.
Appellant went further to explain that he was providing a car port within the residence precincts, highlighting that off-street parking was deemed to be a requisite under normal circumstances. Applicant further observed that a deck footprint up to a maximum area of 75 square metres would have been permitted had he decided to construct a swimming pool instead of a car port. Therefore, applicant submitted that the Planning Authority should accept that ‘the impact in this case does not exceed that for a pool deck’
Reference was also made to clause 4 of Policy 6.3 of the Rural Policy and Design Guidance which expressly provides that planning permission may be granted for limited extensions to dwellings on condition that the resultant area is less than 200 square metres. According to applicant, the committed dwelling footprint was within the said limits. Concluding, applicant pointed out that the width of the gate was being reduced according to policy requirements.
On his part, the case officer representing the Planning Authority counter argued that in applicant’s case, it was ‘undesirable to provide on-site parking because of the problem of soil conservation’. Policy P18 of the DC 2015, contemplating the provision of on-site parking for both residential and non-residential development, was therefore not applicable in applicant’s case. On-site parking provision may indeed be done away with, so much so that a contribution to an urban improvement fund should be made if it is technically undesirable to provide on-site parking such as in this case. With regard to the dwelling floor area, the case officer argued that ‘given that the existing dwelling on site is on two floors it is highly likely that the total floorspace of this dwelling already exceeds 200 square metre’, however failing to state with certainty whether this was actually the case.
In its assessment, the Tribunal asserted that applicant was correct to argue that a permit would have been issued had he decided to request planning permission for a pool deck up to 75 square metres. In the case under examination, the car port measured 45 square metres. Moreover the dwelling floorspace was less than the allowable 200 square metres limit. Against this background, the Planning Authority was ordered to issue the permit.